Review Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku / Memories of My Body (2019)

Also titled as Memories of My Body, Garin’s Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku presents a melancholy tale of mysticism, philosophy and sensualism about human body through a gender variant dancer.

Long-time, eclectic Indonesian director, Garin Nugroho, returns with a meditative picture, Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku (also known as Memories of My Body), about gender and the mysticism of human body. His new film, inspired by the harsh life of Japan-based Indonesian dancer, Rianto, and many other traditional dancers living in the rural area of Java, is not only visually, contextually, subtextually and substantially rich, but it’s also thought-provoking.

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Review The Curse of Weeping Woman (2019)

Even though packed with creatively crafted jumpscares and dramas that make sense, La Llorona could never really reach its potential.

The Conjuring universe keeps expanding its horizon with many unlikely, hit-or-miss ways making it one of the most successful sharing cinematic universes. Their recent cash-in period horror, The Curse of the Weeping Woman (also titled as The Curse of La Llorona), is based on a Mexican folk horror that dated back to the 17th century. La Llorona a.k.a. the weeping woman was once a woman who drowned her two children upon learning that her hidalgo husband chasing another woman; since then, she returns as a ghost who haunts and drowns other children of some poor women. There’s no telling why, but after at least two centuries, the Mexican ghost eventually made it all the way from south of the border to Los Angeles, where the 1973 horror takes place.

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Review Guava Island (2019)

Donald Glovers’ artistry meets Hiro Murai’s sensitivity produce an uplifting, musical dramedy which feels violent and elevating at the same moment.

In Guava Island, Donald Glover fully embraces his musical moniker, Childish Gambino, to do Beyonce’s Lemonade-ing on his own style. Directed by Glover’s frequent collaborator, Hiro Murai, who has been working on his music videos (including the recent phenomenon, This Is America) and his self-conceived series Atlanta, this 55-minute feature is another invention in Glover’s never-ending artistry. Premiering at Coachella (followed by a limited Amazon Prime distribution), this short feature might be a career celebration or, else, a hint on what Glover would do in the future about his music, acting, and writing career.

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Review Ave Maryam (2019)

Beyond the beautifully staged and shot pictures, Ave Maryam is a black comedy with Catholic guilt as the punchline.‬ Rich with subtexts; but modest, if not poor, with narrative impact.

Underneath the beautiful cinematography and poetic, rare dialogues, Ertanto Robby Soediskam’s Ave Maryam (a more clinical title compared to its metaphorical working title, ‘Salt is Leaving the Sea’) is a black comedy with Catholic guilt as the punch-line. The guilt is the love manifested in four unique forms of love found in the Bible to contradict each other. All the burden of love is the cross that Sister Maryam (Maudy Koesnaedi, profoundly) has to bear in her via dolorosa of life.

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Review Sunyi (2019)

Sunyi showcases most of the director’s style and jump-scares without ever worrying about the story. It’s pretty basic—in terms of story and scares, after all.

Awi Suryadi has become a legit name in Indonesian horror cinema. His three recent horrors (Danur, Danur 2: Maddah, Asih; dubbed as Danur universe) were all blockbuster hits with mixed to negative reviews condemning his over-abuse of cinematic style (including the never-ending Duch tilts) that borrows from famous horror auteurs, jump-scares with blatant sound effects, and, mostly, weak scripts. His recent venture, Sunyi, is a loose adaptation of the 1998 South Korean horror blockbuster, Whispering Corridors—a horror which isn’t necessarily needing an adaptation.

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Review Greta (2019)

Huppert and Moretz deliver unnerving performance even when Greta ends up being a pulpy thriller with a bizarre third act.

It’s an utter pleasure to see Isabelle Huppert playing a role of a dangerous, demanding and dominant woman. The last time we’ve seen it, we see transformed into the elusive Michele in Elle,Paul Verhoeven’s haunting thriller. In Greta, she transforms into the titular character—the seemingly vulnerable, lonesome woman who conceals her clingy, controlling nature. The character is as haunting and as disturbing as in Elle; only this time, she is the feline in the cat-and-mouse game.

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Review Hellboy (2019)

Neil Marshall’s Hellboy is truer to the nature and style of the source materials compared to the versions it reboots; however, that doesn’t make it a better movie.

There is a common defense for the new Hellboy: it is truer to the nature and style of the source material, Mike Mignola’s Dark Horse comics. That argument seems to undermine how imaginative and romantic Guillermo del Toro’s idyllic 2004 fantasy-adventure, which also spawns a sequel in 2008. Fact is, the reboot by Neil Marshall is a darker R-rated rendition with more profanities, more binge-drinking and more blood-gushing moments.

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